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Doug King of the Museum of Flight next to one of the Space Shuttle Trainer's engine bells, unpacked today.

Seattle’s Museum of Flight today unpacked the first piece of its new Space Shuttle Trainer, unveiling one of three engine bells from the full-scale orbiter replica, which was used as a simulator to train every astronaut since the 1970s.

First impression: This is going to bigger than I had imagined.

The replica engine bell alone is nine feet in diameter and 800 pounds, dwarfing museum officials and reporters as we stood next to it at the event today. It’s so large that museum officials had to resort to using a ladder to move the tarp to the side after it got stuck at the top of the engine bell during the unveiling.

No, it’s not a real Space Shuttle orbiter. We lost out on getting one of those. The trainer is made of plywood and doesn’t have wings. But Doug King, the museum’s CEO, reiterated today that in some ways it’s better than a real orbiter, because people will be able to walk through the cargo bay.

The trainer is being shipped in pieces and will be reassembled at the museum’s new Charles Simonyi Space Gallery in the coming months.

Mark your calendar: The crew compartment is slated to arrive at Boeing Field on June 16 on NASA’s Super Guppy aircraft.

The trainer is scheduled to be fully assembled in the new gallery in September.

Update: Here’s a video from today’s event.

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